Prospero, wise Duke of Milan, has been deposed by Antonio, his wicked brother and exiled with his daughter Miranda to a mysterious island. But Prospero possesses supernatural powers. Composed at the end of Shakespeare's career, the play contains some of his most lyrical dramatic verse.
The Tempest tells the story of Prospero, the supplanted Duke of Milan, who takes control of small island. He's freed a spirit from a tree, who now faithfully follows him; and he's enslaved the twisted (physically and mentally) denizen of the island.
Prospero discovers that his supplanting brother is nearby on a ship, so he calls a mighty tempest to beach them upon his island. He then tries to work the situation to his advantage, as well as marry off his daughter to the prince, who has likewise washed ashore.
The Tempest is a comedy, which may give you some indication of how it ends, but it is not the destination with this play; rather, it is the route traveled.
If you have ever read anything by Shakespeare, you're bound to enjoy The Tempest, even if you hated what you read, since you were most likely in high school, dissecting the lifeless dry corpse of literature. Like an airy spirit, breathe new life into your comprehension of literature, and get yourself a copy of the Tempest, and start reading!
Despite the intriguing complex characters and the many plots within the play, it is definitely not as good as some of Shakespeare’s other works (i.e. Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet); however it is still another enjoyable work by Shakespeare.
When I first read “The Tempest,” I thought the relationship between Prospero and Caliban was simply just Prospero being the benevolent man who tries to “help” Caliban and only gets rebuked from him. But after I read it again, I see that Prospero is not the nice protagonist. They are an example of the post colonial theory, between the master and servant, the knowledgeable and the ignorant. It is interesting how the actions and reactions of each character reflect history, whether it is in the Americas, India, Hawaii, etc. The settlers think they need to educate the natives because they do not know the customs and are barbaric in comparison to the colonizer’s culture. Even though Prospero’s treatment towards Caliban is coarse, it is different when it came to Ariel, a fellow native. Because Caliban rebelled to learn from Prospero, he got punished as a result while Ariel tried to win favor in order to gain freedom. Although they both are on the island first, their actions give two different results.
When I first read “The Tempest” I read it in its original text. Meaning I read it in Old English or whatever the official name for it is. The play was hard to understand although I did enjoy the adventure of the read. I understood most of the characters and even liked some of them. By far my favorite character would have to be the most flawed one: Caliban. To me he was the most intriguing. He is a slave and son of a witch. It just makes my imagination go nuts. What would a witch’s son look like in Shakespeare? It was exhilarating! The book I rented from the library consisted of a huge analysis that I did not read however I looked at the pictures of the characters and drawings. There was this drawing of Caliban and he looked absolutely hideous. It was a gruesome picture that peeked my imagination and drew me further into the reading.
Eventually I finished and sat wondering what the heck did I just read? I honestly did not even know they were on an island until the day of class when we discussed it. I was astonished that I missed a huge detail like that. So to be honest I went to spark notes I read the translated version. Awesome.
It’s interesting that I read the Tempest now because just three months ago I had rented the movie “Forbidden Planet”, which is a modern translation of “The Tempest” but in space. So not only did I not know what the “The Tempest” was I saw it in space. It is just interesting how things work out like that.
Ever since I’ve read the translated version of the play I have been thinking on and on about this island that they are on and what it represents. It is clearly a metaphor for the Americas. However I have been thinking Islands lately and what comes to my mind when I think of that? The mystical and magical island of “Lost” the television series. The show is basically another modernization of “The Tempest”. If your not a fan of the show I’m sorry but I just thought that was cool. I could probably list some parallels between the show and the play but I shall not. So now I’m on an uber-quest to find more of these modernized versions. “The Tempest” is just that awesome I guess.
Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” has caught the imagination of generations. Something mystical about it appeals to the people. It appealed to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have a feeling the story of Prospero, Caliban, Miranda, and the storm that shipwrecked a navel ship will not fail to outlast even my grandchildren’s grandchildren. It will live on forever and ever. It may cause a religion or not. It may cause a revolution. Who knows? This is just me speculating at the awesomeness of the story. I’m sorry I couldn’t give more examples of why this story is great. It just is and you should definitely read it before you die.
Another aspect of the play I found intriguing was its self-awareness. I was struck several times by a sense that the play was calling attention to or making fun of the fact that it is an illusion on a stage. One example is the first scene of Act II, where Antonio, Sebastian, and Gonzalo argue about what the island looks like. I could be wrong, but it seems like it would call the audience’s attention to whatever sparse scenery there was on the stage. The other big example I can think of is the epilogue, in which Prospero breaks the fourth wall and asks the audience to applaud to help the get off the island. In effect, he is saying that the audience doesn’t just watch the play, they participate in it. They are there and they can effect what happens in the story.
My last observation is a small one. Prospero, with his manipulation of the other characters and general omniscience, seemed like Shakespeare’s doppelganger within the world of the play. He is the author acting as the plot’s agent, perhaps again calling attention to the manufactured nature of the stage, but maybe also allowing Shakespeare to extol the virtues he cherishes most. I thought it was very interesting that Prospero’s magic comes from knowledge, i.e. the books Gonzalo gave him. Shakespeare is saying that learning is power, that the written word has magic in it.
I do admit, however, it was very different. I don’t remember much about A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so all I have really to compare it to is the first three works mentioned. I have to say that I found the setting of the novel interesting: a somewhat magical uncharted island.
It was also interesting to see some very common story elements, probably not so common during the time. One element which has shown up in COUNTLESS stories is the whole “civilized” man comes over and takes “uncivilized” natives’ land, like when Prospero takes over and makes Caliban, the island’s native- his slave. It was interesting to see how old this recurring theme really was, and it was a reminder that this theme stemmed from history. There was the typical fairy tale love story between Ferdinand and Miranda… a Disney style love story. Wilderness girl meets handsome prince. It’s love at first sight, they get married… the perfect happily ever after. Then there was the ever common “those of lesser power plotting to gain power by taking out those of higher power,” such as Caliban planning to take out Prospero and the group trying to take out the King of Naples in his sleep. Like I said, very interesting to see how far these typical storylines date back to.
I thought it was amazing how Shakespeare made the brothers go against eachother to such an extent that one would want to kill the other brother, just as a lusting for power. This demonstrates afar fetched approach of greed. Nonetheless, situations like that go on all the time and exist throughout the world.
I loved Ferdinand's and Miranda's love because it was blind and true. Even with prospero against it, love found a way to make it through to them.
It is apparent that Shakespeare was influenced by the colonization of the time. A prominent theme in The Tempest is the “unnatural” versus the “natural”. Like in “Lord of the Flies”, the men that Prospero bring to the island seem to return to “unnatural” states, becoming suddenly savage in their determination to take the opportunity to kill one another. Meanwhile, Prospero continues to control each individual situation on the island.
Ferdinand and Miranda begin a very typical Shakespearean love. There’s love at first sight, royalty involved, and in Ferdinand’s case, so much love for Miranda that he is willing to haul logs for Prospero in order to be allowed to court her. Too bad we’ve already seen this in all of Shakespeare’s other plays. Their romance is boring, the only interested aspect being Prospero’s control over them. It is apparent that Prospero has a power-trip issue. Although it’s understandable that he wants revenge against his usurpers, the fact that he is willing to control his daughter’s happiness and relationship confirms his need for power.
I find that the Tempest really lacks any interesting story of its own. It seems like a retelling of Shakespeare’s previous work. It’s not really one of his great Tragedies at all; I’d say its only claim to fame is that it’s the last play he wrote by himself. While most Shakespeare isn’t appealing to the younger crowd, the Tempest manages to be the least interesting play he wrote.
All in all, I wouldn’t call “The Tempest” a horrible read just slightly unsatisfying. Mainly this is because the story doesn’t lead to any real outcome and everything basically remains the same.
Reading this play convinces me that it is of such high quality that everybody in the world should at least see one Shakespeare play. This could be in the top 5 list of the absolute best. When Prospero and Miranda are alone and talking, it reminds of how every family in the world is isolated and cut off from society to one degree or another. Sometimes by choice, sometimes by accident. Prospero's accident was having the brother that he did, but his choice was to get out. Good choice. But eventually he must relent by reintroducing some of his old acquaintances and relatives back into his life, but this is on his own terms. His terms are bringing them to where he is, by magic. Even though he thinks he is getting his own way, the victory is not what he had expected it would be. We all learn this through bitter experience.